No. An attorney who only reviews and fills out forms is not only acting unethically but is also doing you a disservice. When an attorney signs an immigration form he or she has duly reviewed and prepared, this attorney is certifying that all information on the form is correct and is assuming responsibility for the case.
An attorney who does not sign a form he has reviewed is not accepting responsibility for his work and is not trustworthy. In fact, notarios do the very same thing when they fill out forms on behalf of other people. Mistakes happen when people avoid consulting with an attorney (or fail to hire the attorney) to review their case because no case is the same, and not everyone will complete a form with the same information or provide the same type of evidence to Immigration Services or the Court.
Attorneys are bound by the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”) to sign all forms they have prepared and reviewed. The CFR (which is the authority attorneys follow in and outside of the courtroom) discusses the issue of professional conduct involving the preparation of immigration forms without signing them. The CFR warns that an attorney can be subject to suspension, reprimands, and even disbarment if he or she “fails to submit a signed and completed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative” when he or she has engaged in “practice or preparation” as defined in 8 C.F.R. § 1001.1 (i), (k). “Preparation” includes the incidental preparation of papers, and “practice” includes “appearing in any case, either in person or through the preparation or filing of any brief or other document, paper, application, or petition on behalf of another person or client before or with DHS, or any immigration judge, or the Board [of Immigration Appeals]:”
According to the CFR, an attorney who engages in any of the practices above can be subject to disciplinary sanctions:
Subpart G—Professional Conduct for Practitioners—Rules and Procedures
(a) Authority to sanction. [A]n adjudicating official or the Board may impose any of the following disciplinary sanctions:
(1) Disbarment . . . ;
(2) Suspension . . . ;
(3) Public or private censure; or
(4) . . . [O]ther disciplinary sanctions[.]
We see many clients come through our doors whose forms are riddled with errors that need to be corrected (this means more money needs to be spent by the client) or whose cases were delayed because their forms had incomplete information. In some cases, client’s cases were even denied because the information provided was false. A thorough consultation with an attorney where representation is sought is worth the time and money to avoid delays in your case.
Johanna Cochran, Associate Attorney